Occupational Therapy Month is coming up in April. Occupational Therapy? What’s that? Aren’t you just a Physical Therapists’ assistant? Most people have no idea. Being a Speech Therapist myself I can empathize, but the longer I work with this amazing group of people, the more I admire their profession and what they do. They deserve more than just a month of celebration if you ask me.
Occupational therapists are a special breed. It is an amazingly diverse career. They help people of all ages develop the skills they need to live, learn, work and play. How do they do that you might ask? Think of a task that you do daily, something you take for granted each day, something as simple as putting on your socks. Seriously, try it with only one hand or a blindfold over one eye. We often don’t know what we miss until it is gone. When someone suffers an injury or is unable to perform that task due to cognitive deficits, occupational therapists are the superheroes that come in and teach you new ways to do things or help you re-learn how to accomplish those daily tasks. Occupational therapists help their patients to not only to improve their basic motor function and reasoning abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function.
It is not just the injured or the elderly that occupational therapists work with. These amazing people walk into our school systems, which often have no funds for “therapy”, and come up with creative ways to help children with developmental disabilities and fine motor skill weaknesses. I have the honor to work side by side with these amazing OT’s and I have witnessed them implement a sensory diet to a child with Autism and give that child relief. The teachers and parents take comfort in knowing how to a reach a child with sensory needs. I have also experienced the personal success of having an OT work with my son, who had difficulty writing.
Such small things we take for grated, they open the world to us all. AOTA President, Ginny Stoffel, summed it up perfectly by stating, “Occupational Therapy practitioners ask “what matters to you” not, “what’s the matter with you?” The AOTA website has a great list of ways you can celebrate Occupational Therapy Month that encourages you to be creative or to supplement what you’ve already planned. So, if you see one of these amazing folks, their superhero capes hidden from view, remind them of how awesome they are and how much we appreciate what they do!
Author: Natasha Peacock, MCD CCC-SLP